How to Choose a Headshot Photographer

As an actor one of your most important tools is your headshot, and so choosing a headshot photographer is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your career. Here is some advice for selecting the headshot photographer that is best for you and your needs.

  1. Make sure you choose a photographer that specializes in headshots. Headshots are different from other types of photography and have a specific, unique goal in mind. Someone you know who is a great photographer may not be a great headshot photographer.
  2. Realize that there are a number of expenses involved in getting your headshots. In addition to having your picture taken, your session fee may or may not include a hair and makeup artist, which is something you want, even if you’re a guy. Additionally master prints of the photos you ultimate select may cost more (or may cost more after a certain number pre-included in your package). Additionally, be prepared to expend money on retouching, and then ultimately reproducing your photos.
  3. Headshots are expensive, especially in major markets like New York and Los Angeles. You may see fliers for $99 headshots all over your city, but these are not headshots you want. $99 headshots look like $99 headshots in a world where people generally spend between $200 and $600. It is important you view your headshot as an investment. Your headshot is used not just to gauge your appearance and personality, but to ascertain your professionalism and committment to the business.
  4. In the past, headshots were always exclusively black and white. This is changing, although more so in Los Angeles than in New York (where color is acceptable, but black and white remains the standard, unless you are a redhead and black and white photography is ineffective at showing your coloring). With more photos being done digitally, you can now make this decision after your headshots are taken. Remember that for many, black and white has a stronger visual impact.
  5. When selecting your headshot photographer look at examples of other headshots they have done. Use this, not just to judge the quality of their work, but to see what type of faces they excell at photographing. I have high contrast coloring and a strong ethnic look; when I chose my headshot photographer it was largely because the women she showcased on her site were women who, like me, had strong features and were in my age group. That told me she knew how to photograph someone who looked like me, and that this was something she was proud to use to showcase her work.
  6. Reproductions, a photo reproduction house with offices in New York and Los Angles, has a book of headshot photographers’ work. You can look through it in their offices or pick one up there. It’s a valuable resource for choosing the right photographer.
  7. Find out how your potential headshot photographer works – this includes whether they listen to their music when shooting, or if you can bring your own, how long you can expect the session to be, whether they use natural lighting, whether you can bring your hair and makeup person to their studio with you, etc. It’s important that you be comforable with the logistics of your headshot experience to get the best results you can.

Getting your headshots done can be a stressful experience. Your headshots represent how you will present yourself to casting directors for a good period of time, and they are a major investment. The important thing to remember at your headshot shoot is to have fun and relax (strain can show in teh eyes and mouth). Remember, all you need is one perfect image, and with the right headshot photographer, you’ll get it!

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